Particle camera - logo of the detector

Are bananas radioactive?

Are bananas really radioactive? How many bananas would you have to eat to get a lethal dose of radiation? Which radioactive elements do bananas contain? Interesting findings will surprise you.

The symbol of radioactive bananasToday I Found Out bananas are naturally radioactive.  This comes from the fact that they contain relatively high amounts of potassium.  Specifically, they contain Potassium-40, which is a radioactive isotope of potassium.

The fact that bananas are radioactive has actually given rise to the radiation unit: “banana equivalent dose” (BED); this is the average amount of radiation you are exposed to by eating one banana.  The banana equivalent dose is occasionally used to help conceptualize the relative danger of various radiation sources and amounts; for instance, the amount of radiation typically leaked by a modern nuclear fission reactor.  This leaked radiation is typically extremely small, typically in the realm of a picocurie, which is a millionth of a millionth of a curie.  This latter measurement doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to most people, thus the banana equivalent dose was introduced to give an easy way to understand whether X amount of radiation is harmful or not, given that you know bananas aren’t harmful.  For instance, living within 10 miles of a typical nuclear power plant will expose you on a daily basis to just a bit more radiation than you’d get from eating one banana a day.

Continue reading...

HISKEY, DAVEN. Bananas Are Naturally Radioactive. [online]. 2010, ; [cit. 2014-01-27]. Source:

  • Written by: Jablotron Alarms a.s.
  • Thursday, 23 January 2014